Sunday, July 8, 2012

What God Can Do with What We Forget

Mike says they were our next door neighbors. I'm skeptical. I don't remember that.

I remember the long, institutional hallway with opposing doors. I remember our bunny, Sugar, hop-running the length of that hall in the evenings after work. I remember trying not to cry when I first saw the dorm room and Mike gleamed, and I didn't want to live there. I remember the tears, unrestrained now, when I closed the door for the last time on the seminary students we had been. And I remember Jim's name and familiar face when he sent the blue cyber request to be friends, but not that we were next door neighbors. I may have borrowed his milk.

We all remember only bits and pieces, never the whole.

Mike and Jim are caught up on two decades of ministerial life on Facebook in short-order, and Mike thinks he has a grasp on what the old friendship was.

And he answered, “ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.

Then Jim sends the picture of a worn out bible that looks like it's been through war, probably spiritual war at the very least, with an explanation, because he knows we won't remember it.

We don't.

Jim reminds us. "Mike, so great to connect with you after 20+ years! In August of 1990, while neighbors in seminary housing, you and Dawn gave this Bible to me at the time of my ordination. I have used it to lead many to faith in Jesus Christ. I have prayed for you through the years because of your message to me on the inside cover. By God's grace, I have kept the charge and am running the race that will end at our Savior's feet (Hebrews 12:1-3)."

I don't remember buying this bible for our next door neighbor whom I had since forgotten.

I do remember not being able to afford to have our car fixed for months, Mike driving downtown twice a day to get me to and from work.

I do remember looking for loose change that had slipped between the car seats hoping—no, praying—for quarters and that it would be enough to make it 'til payday. It was.

I remember the grocery budget being $70 a week and calculating at the market to not go over.

I don't remember buying a bible for our neighbor, but I imagine it was a financial sacrifice. And I imagine Mike's the one who really wanted to do it. I don't know for sure, because, well, I don't remember that either.

When we forget the ordinary things we do, they might be unforgettable to our neighbor.  

And God surely doesn't forget.

Bible Inscription: Dear Jim, God bless you on this occasion of your ordination. I know that it is a special time in your life and we pray that God will use you in every possible way. We love you, Mike and Dawn Gonzalez   8-21-90

So now I'm wondering what other surprises God has up his sleeve. And that perhaps there might be more forgotten deeds that won't burn on that Day, the one I fear just a little (and wrote about recently).

Now I wonder if I've got it all wrong about that Day. I used to imagine uncomfortable, vulnerable exposure and a glaring, inescapable spotlight. But maybe that Day is really a family reunion with lots of surprises, happiness, and reminiscing over long-forgotten memories recounted by our Father.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;

Maybe my Father wants me, or you, to stop dreading that Day. Maybe He would rather us yearn for it instead.


  1. It's so true, how we remember fragments of things from our past. So much to catalog, I never know what will come up. Usually I am reminded in prayer of things long forgotten. And it seems the timing of it all is always His. Like that Bible coming back to you after all these years. I'm sure there is a message there beyond the relationship. Nice story Dawn.

    1. Shelly, maybe there is a story beyond the relationship. Who knows, beside God of course. :) I'm sure He will reveal it at his precise timing if it is ever needed. I find comfort in thatthough now.

  2. A lovely reflection. I had popped over on my own, not realizing that you had linked this up. And while reading I was thinking, Wow, Dawn should add this to the God-Bumps/God-Incidences linky! :)

    I love your messages in this place, my friend.

  3. "And he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." See, there will be forgetting in Heaven too, the good kind of forgetting.

    A wise old friend shared recently that it's impossible for God to truly forget (as in, "cast our sins as far as the east is from the west to remember them no more,") but for God, the forgetting is to choose no longer to retain the memory for the purpose of punishing. Oh, that we would forget like God forgets.

    1. Lori,your friend's take oan God's memory reminds me of an old song I used to love by Crystal Lewis. I just found it on YouTube. It's about God not being able to read the bloodstained pages that record all my forgiven offenses. How great is our God! I'll try to link the YouTube video. I don't know if it will work....

  4. A friend told me I was the one to arrange for a special event when she adopted her child, but I don't remember. I love this story. Thank you for reminding us that the Lord sees it all...and remembers it all...even when we don't.

  5. Dorothy Hodge-WellsJuly 11, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    What a precious reminder of how God uses what we consider somewhat incidential actions in our lives for His glory. Thank you for allowing our Father to use you as His vessel through your writing. I for one needed this very message from Him. We can become so overwhelmed with the problems of this world and feel as we can have no impact, losing sight of the many ways God chooses to use His children. However this encourages me to continually run the race before me. I will never win a gold medal in this life; but one day I hope to be privledged to hear the words, "Well done my good and faithful servant".

    1. Dorothy, I'm so glad you clicked through to read and comment. And that you found just the encouragement you needed for the moment. Blessings to you and your family.

  6. I love a cup of cold water...and don’t you want to be those who say...when did I feed you...when did I...and Yes these words ...well done ...enter into your husband and I were talking about this very thing...the dread of the big movie playing and us shrinking in horror...but If we are standing with pure Love on that day...I don’t think it will matter...whether my “good” or “bad” deeds are will all be interpreted through a heart of love...were there is no condemnation or fear in prefect love. blessings to you

    1. I think we have trouble comprehending the scope of holy forgiveness. Perfect love casts out all fear, but we fear anyway. Shame's residue has a way of stealing our anticipation of meeting Him face to face, don't you think? I'm so glad God's teaching me to let go of this fear and see Him in all of his forgiving love for me.

  7. What a blessing to be reminded how God can use the simplest things. What stands out to me here is how the inscription encouraged this man through the years. I always like to write inscriptions in books but feel silly doing so. This encourages me to continue!

    Mary Beth

    1. Mary Beth, we never know how our words can make a difference to others. We've been gifted lots of books with inscriptions, and those incriptions keep giving over the years. Definitely keep at it. Thanks for stoppin by today.

  8. Oh, this is just too cool!

    Like Jennifer said, it definitely is a God Bumps occasion! How nice that you reconnected and found out he was still using your Bible. Just really cool. :)

    Only God.

  9. How neat! We DON'T remember everything, all the time. And it's so wonderful when someone steps up and thanks us or tells our family how helpful or encouraging we were. Makes us shrug a bit, and be confused, but it's a way to keep us moving along.

    So blessed you are!


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